Food and Drink, The Features

Surviving Sandy: Foodie Style

We all know what happens when the imminent threat of a natural disaster is on its way. First we panic, turn on every weather channel known to cable, open multiple tabs on our browsers to follow copious storm trackers, have flashbacks of all those natural disaster movies (I’m looking at you Helen Hunt in Twister), and then… well, we hit the grocery store. If you are anything like me, my over-preparedness resulted in two glorious days of browsing recipes, cooking, and baking. I am a cynic by nature (no pun intended) but somehow found myself following the crowd and stalking up on so much food I could have had a neighborhood block party (or four). I felt a need to make- and eat – everything, as if the world actually was going to end tomorrow…

But alas, Sandy spared us some monumental destruction (thank you), except for the few pounds we may have added to the scale (white girl problems), but the forced hibernation was a welcome moment of peace amidst the madness. Something about the sound of heavy wind and rain inspired unplugging and putting hands, and minds, to use elsewhere.

I for one am a huge breakfast person. So staying indoors meant staying in pajamas a little longer, making more breakfast than usual, and planning that night’s lunch or dinner before I even finished my last sip of coffee. One of my favorite comfort foods, which brings me back home to Colombia, is the arepa. For those of you who have never had one, it is a corn-flour tortilla of sorts, similar to a Salvadorean pupusa, which is a vehicle for anything and everything you wish. From avocado and cheese (I go for mozarella or queso fresco), to bacon and other forms of cooked pork (shredded always best), an arepa is a versatile, delicious, comforting staple of Colombian cuisine. Using just cornmeal flour and water, the dough becomes dense and easy to mold, rounded out and grilled on a stovetop. My favorite toppings include butter, melted mozzarella, avocado, and a generous pinch of salt and pepper.

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Food and Drink, Homebrewing, The Features

Homebrew DC: Uniquely American

Photo courtesy of Poncho Equihua
Hops and Yeast, lupulos & levaduras
courtesy of Poncho Equihua

This is another in a series of articles about homebrewing in the DC area by Carl Weaver of RealHomebrew.com. Want to learn about making your own beer? Keep an eye out for Friday homebrew features.

America’s biggest contribution to the beer world, at least in my opinion, is a very good jumping-off point for homebrew: the American ale. It is safe to say that the majority of beer enthusiasts have enjoyed an ale at one time or another. Despite the commercial popularity of pilsners in America, the craft brew community has brought about a rebirth of this uniquely American style.

American ales are generally a bit more hoppy than their cousins from across the pond and often have a bit higher percent alcohol by volume (ABV). A great deal of the unique hoppiness is due to the floral and citrus characteristics of the hops grown in the United States, especially those developed in California and the Pacific Northwest. In addition to the increased hop characteristics, American ales are generally medium bodied with a lighter malt flavor than than European-style ales. Some of the more notable American ale styles are the American pale, amber, brown, and IPA.

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Food and Drink, The Features

Lamb Ragu for the American Lamb Pro-Am

Photo courtesy of bonappetitfoodie
Rigatoni with lamb ragu
courtesy of bonappetitfoodie

Author’s note: This post is for the D.C. American Lamb Pro-Am competition. The task: come up with a lamb recipe for the competition for readers like you to vote on here. If I make it to the top 4 contestants, I get paired with a DC chef, go on to rep We Love DC and cook a lamb dish for 200 people!

Any time I cook for a big group of friends or take a stab at concocting my own recipe, I try to remember this tiny little truth: stick to what you know. Of course, I take that with a grain of salt, but the principle remains the same. Hosting a dinner party for eight, especially if you’re aiming to impress a certain member of the crowd, means that it’s probably not the right time to try your hand at that chocolate souffle recipe you’ve never made or even tasted. I’m all for taking risks in the kitchen. But there are times and places when it’s better to do so.
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Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs: Ris Lacoste of Ris (Part 2)

Photo courtesy of bonappetitfoodie
Ris Lacoste’s Endive, Walnut & Blue Cheese Salad with Port Vinaigrette
courtesy of bonappetitfoodie

If you’re like me, you spend a lot of time wandering through the produce aisles staring at vegetables and wondering what in the world you should make with them. You’re overwhelmed by the options and the daunting threat of those veggies passing their prime in the bottom of your refrigerator’s crisper. Stress no more. Chef Ris Lacoste of Ris shared with me a recipe for an endive, walnut and blue cheese salad with port vinaigrette. I know, it’s winter and the thought of salad seems foreign. But this dish is hearty and a great way to get creative and bring some bright flavors into your kitchen while we wait for warmer weather. Click through to find the full recipe.
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The Daily Feed

PSA: Peak Northwest Cherry Season Is Here

A Bowl of Cherries

In February I posted a recipe and photographic step-by-step instructions for preserving your own cherries. In that post I noted, “supply is unpredictable and the cherry season is short.” If you’ve got the time, hie yourself to the supermarket, where Northwest sweet cherries are $1.99/lb through tonight (Safeway) or Thursday (Giant).

My local Safeway had Mason jars in stock the last time I looked, too. Target carries some attractive jars, but their supply can be unpredictable. I have also bought jars at Logan Hardware. What are you waiting for? Get preserving!

Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs: Nick Stefanelli of Bibiana (Part 2)

Photo courtesy of
‘Risotto Frutti di Mare at Bibiana’
courtesy of ‘bonappetitfoodie’

Risotto can be like a wild beast in the kitchen. If you don’t cook it long enough, it’s like eating little rock pellets. If you don’t stir it, you will end up with a gloppy mess. But in reality, risotto is not all that hard to make and make it well. So with that in mind, don’t get hung up on the idea that you have to babysit this pot of rice grains for a while. Besides, you’re cooking with wine…pour yourself a glass.

After the jump you’ll find Nick Stefanelli’s recipe for risotto frutti di mare. It’s a light risotto with the lemon juice, white wine and seafood–perfect for summertime. Keep in mind Stefanelli’s advice that this recipe (as most do) depends on the freshness of the seafood, and don’t get too hung up on what seafood to include in the risotto if something isn’t available at your grocery store. Again, Stefanelli would remind you that “frutti di mare” means “fruits of the sea,” stick with firm fish and shellfish for the risotto and you can’t go wrong.
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Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs: Quanta Robinson of Black’s Bar and Kitchen (Part 2)

Black's Bar and Kitchen-10
‘Black’s Bar and Kitchen-10′
‘courtesy of spiggycat

Summertime rolls around and if you’re like me and have a kitchen that turns into a sauna from June through September, you want to spend as little time as possible over the stove. That’s not to say that you’re willing to sacrifice having a good meal. After the jump, you’ll find chef Quanta Robinson’s recipe for Malt Mussels with Frites (read: french fries). It’s straightforward and doesn’t take a ton of time to cook. Plus who doesn’t love a brothy bowl of mussels with a good chunk of crusty bread or frites?
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Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs: John Critchley of Urbana (Part 2)

Photo courtesy of
‘Shellfish stew at Urbana’
courtesy of ‘bonappetitfoodie’

With spring finally in the air, chef John Critchley’s shellfish stew with coconut and lime is great for this time of year. The coconut milk and lime keep it light, but it still has a rich and creamy broth. For all you seafood wary cooks, this isn’t a difficult recipe to make, so it’s good for taking the plunge into cooking with shellfish. The flavors are great and it’s a dish that will definitely impress your friends.

Click through to find the full recipe after the jump.
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Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: Todd Thrasher’s Preserved Cherries

Prepared Jars
Prepared Jars by Don Feduardo
All photos courtesy of the author

We Love Drinks embarks on a series where we attempt to make our favorite cocktails and essential drinks ingredients from around town. If there’s something you’d like us to feature, please let us know!

The proper garnish is a critical part of some cocktails. DC has no shortage of bars where you can get a craft cocktail, and if you watch the bartenders at work at one of these establishments (and I have) you can see (and taste) how the garnish really can finish a drink, either emphasizing or complementing certain flavors in the liquid ingredients.

My first craft cocktail experience in the area came at PX, where the craft most definitely extends to the garnish. One of the cocktails I had on my first visit was listed on the menu as not just a Manhattan, but “My Wife’s Manhattan.” How could I pass that up? So I was very pleased when the Washington Post ran the recipe for Todd Thrasher’s preserved cherries. I made my first batch of them as soon as I could round up a cherry pitter and some cherries, based on the vagaries of supply and demand at Giant. And they were good, but they were salty. I had done something wrong.

It didn’t matter that they were too salty, though, because the Social Chair and I polished them off with some dispatch. We had three problems, really: 1) that first batch was too salty; 2) supply is unpredictable and the cherry season is short; 3) the recipe says they’ll last for two weeks in the fridge, nowhere near as long as our own Manhattan season. So I decided the next batch would solve all three of those problems. Continue reading

Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs: Jon Mathieson of Inox (Part II)

Photo courtesy of
‘INOX #46′
courtesy of ‘Chris Rief aka Spodie Odie’

As you read earlier in Katie’s Capital Chefs Part I, we trekked out to Tyson’s corner (on a Saturday) to catch some peace, quiet and scallops with Inox Restaurant’s co-owner Chef Jon Mathieson. After ooo-ing and ahh-ing over his adorable two little kids playing tag and harmlessly tackling each other around the empty restaurant, Katie and I were not disappointed by the no-nonsense cooking style of Chef Mathieson, who had clearly spent some time in the kitchen with his other two (actual) children.

“Which one of you cooks?” I raised my hand. “Alright, then if you’re making this at home, you can start practicing now.” And we were off to a running start. “Stand over here. See this cabbage? See this color? Here, here’s a towel for you to hold the pot handle. Stir it. Now pull it off the heat.” Chef Mathieson coaxed me through the process of emulsifying the butter sauce while perfectly coating and braising the cabbage.

He made it seem so easy. He showed me, in multiple ways, where it could all go wrong, and the lesson was over in half an hour. Could it really be that easy?

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Food and Drink, The Features, Thrifty District

Thrifty District: Recession Bean Soup

"Spilling the Beans" by Roger Smith, on Flickr 

"Spilling the Beans" by Roger Smith, on Flickr

When it comes to budgeting, I bargain with myself. A lot. As in, “if you really want those shoes, buy them, but then you have to eat bean soup for a week.” 

UGH. Bean soup?

As a child I hated beans. But somewhere along the line I had a cracking good bean soup that changed my mind. Once I had to tighten the belt I decided to try to recreate it myself. So, for all of you budget bargainers out there (I know I am not the only one!) here it is, my Recession Bean Soup recipe.

First off, we all know legumes (somehow it sounds more classy to say legumes instead of beans… be sure to snootily – or sexily – elongate the ‘oo’ when you say it) are crazy good for you. Protein, fiber, and magic. But, there’s a certain squeamish factor about, um, their effect on your digestive system. But don’t worry. If you use dried beans, simply rinse and rinse and rinse until the water no longer foams, and you will not offend anyone in your presence after consuming.

Now, to the recipe.

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